An “AI candidate” for mayor in Tokyo is promising fair and balanced politics in a news story out of a science fiction novel.
Whether it’s samurai robots, a hotel staffed by robots, or AI girlfriends, it seems that it safe to say that one should keep their eye on Japan when it comes to developments in the field of artificial intelligence. So while it seemed a foregone conclusion that AI would eventually break into the world of politics, the way we’re seeing it do so in one city in Japan is a bit surprising. The mayoral election of Tama City in Tokyo is featuring its first “AI candidate”.
t least, that’s what one can take from the promise of mayoral candidate Michito Matsuda. Matsuda has chosen to throw his hat into the election but is deferring to an AI-powered robot avatar, as he intends to maximize the use of artificial intelligence and rely on it heavily in the running of his municipal administration. As far as campaign materials
As he writes on his Twitter account (which is run in character in an AI persona), “For the first time in the world, AI will run in an election. Artificial intelligence will change Tama City. With the birth of an AI-Mayor, we will conduct impartial and balanced politics. We will implement policies for the future with speed, accumulate information and know-how, and lead the next generation.”
The AI candidate certainly stands out on posters among his local rivals.
Just like other Japanese politicians, the AI has campaign trucks driving around blaring promotions and asking for support. On Japanese social media, some are calling the campaign a stunt as a human will ultimately be in charge. Others say they are strangely excited and are labeling it a better alternative to incompetent and scandalous humans. And of course, many are seeing it as the futuristic worlds of their favorite anime and video games becoming a surprising reality (with some fear of increased AI presence).
How Matsuda fairs in his bid for mayor via AI avatar this time around (he tried this before four years ago in a losing effort) won’t be known until April 15th, the designated voting day for Tama City’s mayoral election, but turnout in his favor might provide some modest insight at a local level in regards to how people in Japan view incorporating AI more heavily in politics. Or at the very least, how strong an impact using a robot on your campaign poster works as an alternative to a person in a suit.
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